Instamate Version 2.0 has just bee released. Bigger and better than before, this is a tool used by savvy marketers to get the word out about their products and services on the hugely popular Instagram photo-sharing platform. The review below is for Version 1 of the software that was released last year.
What Is Instamate?
Doesn’t sound like much does it? Instagram was designed as a mobile app so if you want to manage and post to an Instagram account from a PC, you’ll find it’s not possible. The app wasn’t designed with PCs in mind. It’s an app designed to share photos taken on mobile devices.
Despite what some marketers say about running their businesses from a mobile phone while at the beach, most of us use a PC or a laptop to run our businesses from home or an office. You need a decent keyboard to be able to write, be that blog posts or emails.
What Instamate does is remove all the barriers PC and laptop users face when trying to manage and post images to Instagram.
Posting from a PC is now as easy as posting from a mobile device.
What’s more, you can do a lot more preparation work on images before you post them, such as adding text, calls to action, watermarks and URLs to images.
Instamate allows you to use Instagram as a viable marketing channel.
Every internet marketer knows that having a presence on Facebook is a necessity these days. Facebook ads are cheap and the tools they provide to target an audience means you can get your message to the right people at low cost. And response rates are good.
But placing ads will cost you money. Posting images on Instagram is free. And response rates there are actually better than what you get on Facebook.
Maybe that got your attention? It did mine as I’d never considered the possibilities of marketing on Instagram.
Why I Bought Instamate
Some products I buy simply to review them and get a proper inside look at them. I didn’t buy Instamate for that reason. I bought it simply because I love the idea behind it and it’s a tool that removes a real obstacle that PC and laptop users face.
I knew about Instagram but only that it was a photo-sharing app. The sales pitch and the training videos for Instamate were an eye-opener in how powerful Instagram could be as a marketing channel.
So I bought the tool purely for my own use. And I went almost all-in. I bought the Luxury Edition, the VIP training and the Image Editor.
There was another upgrade to the software so it could manage 30 Instagram accounts but I didn’t go for that option. I figured that was putting the cart before the horse and I should learn how to manage and post to one or two accounts first.
This is my Instamate dashboard – click the image for a larger view. Down the left is the menu – there are more options below what’s shown here.
After watching the Welcome video presented by developer Luke Maguire, I watched the Training videos and then followed that by watching the VIP Training Videos.
Signing Up For Instagram
Opening an Instagram is probably the hardest part. Maguire recommends installing the Instagram app on your mobile device and creating your account through it. Once that’s done, you can forget about the app. But what if you want to create more than one account?
The best way I found was to create an account by logging in through Facebook (who now own Instagram). I have several FB accounts, each for a different purpose. While you can have as many FB pages as you want on different niches, they’re all still housed under your FB login name. I wanted to have different Instagram accounts for different subjects rather than a single catch-all account. So creating one Instagram per FaceBook account was the way I went, though I’ve only created two Instagram accounts so far.
With the Instagram accounts created, it was time to move on with the rest of Instamate‘s training.
Managing My Instagram Account(s)
Instamate allows you to activate up to 3 Instagram accounts (you can buy licenses for using additional accounts if you need to). So you can manage multiple accounts from the same dashboard.
You’re able to search Instagram for posts based on keywords or hashtags, check what’s trending, find popular hashtags and then do one of the following: repost to your own account, download an image (to edit with an image editor), upload an image from your hard drive or, if you bought the Image Editor OTO, you can edit the image right inside of Instamate so you make that image unique. You can add your web address, a brand name, use filters on the image, etc. prior to posting it to your own account.
Other services which do a similar thing (like posting on YouTube, Twitter, etc) where you’re reposting existing content, actually publish their posts through one central server. It looks pretty suspicious to YouTube, Google, etc. when content on accounts owned by different users all comes from the same IP address and accounts can be shut down because they’re considered spammy.
To get around this, there’s an extension for Instamate that available for the Chrome browser. You only need to download and install it once and then forget about it. But what it does is ensure that your Instagram posts come from your IP address not some central server. This looks far more natural.
Instamate also allows you to schedule posts which, as far as I’m aware, you can’t even do in the actual Instagram app. So you can spend a couple of hours preparing your images for the week and schedule them to go out at random times and then not think about Instagram for another 7 days.
Advertising on Instagram
The whole idea of using Instagram is to market offers through it. But there is one major limitation: You can only have one active link per Instagram account.
That link is set in your profile. If you’re promoting an offer, then Instagram may not like the link and you’ll need to cloak it before it will be accepted.
Adding links into an image’s description does not result in a hyperlink. The link remains purely as text. Yes, a visitor can copy and paste a link into a browser, but it’s an extra step and fiddly on a mobile device.
So how do you promote offers on Instagram if you can only use on link?
Well, you could change the link from time to time until you find an offer that converts well. But that’s not the best use of your one hyperlink.
What I do is create an Instagram account for a niche so that I’m only going to be promoting a narrow range of niche-specific products and offers to visitors.
My link then goes to an opt-in page that gives away a free report, video tutorials or access to a membership site for that niche. That way, I start building a list of people interested in that niche and I can start emailing them different offers outside of Instagram.
The other thing I do is find images related to a product or offer, edit the image to add a shortened link – one that’s easy to remember and type into a browser, and post that image to Instagram. It seems to work better than posting link text into the image description where it can get lost among the rest of the description and hashtags.
For images that are not related to stuff I’m promoting, I’ll add a link to one of my websites into the image. That way, if the image is shared, my web address gets spread around too.
You can do image editing with any image editor, but if you want the quickest solution for changing up images for posting, then the Instamate Image Editor upsell is worth getting.
Auto-Posting To Other Social Networks
The Instamate Training includes a video where Luke Maguire shows you how to set up a service so that when you add a post through Instamate to Instagram, the same post gets sent to Facebook, Twitter, and up to 30 different social networks. Apart from the initial time in setting up, this will cost you no additional time or money!
The VIP Training Upsell
This upsell costs $37 but you get two bonus courses thrown in by Luke Maguire:
Total FB Takeover – a course that shows you how to post to multiple FB Groups (that you own) at the same time and how to monetize those groups
Dominating Facebook Ads Manager – a course that shows how to get the most out of Facebook’s Ad Manager.
The VIP Training consists of 4 videos which cover the following topics:
- Instagram and Ecommerce
- The top tool to use alongside Instamate
- Monetizing on Instagram
- What NOT to do on Instagram
These are more advanced topics and are best tackled once you’re regularly posting to an Instagram account and have become familiar with it and Instamate. There’s about 48 extra minutes of training.
The VIP training is really for those who want to scale things up. I found it useful and it gave me ideas for the future, but I haven’t really implemented any of the techniques here yet. However, I don’t feel I wasted any money buying the upsell.
I’ve just created a new Instagram account (on May 18, 2016) specifically for Niche Site Institute (http://www.instagram.com/nichesiteinstitute) – a membership site I run that contains an ever-increasing number of internet marketing video tutorial courses – and you can see the results I’m getting from using Instamate to promote that site by regularly checking out that Instagram page.
My plan is to post 2 or 3 images to the account each day. The images will have some relationship to internet and affiliate marketing and will be a mix of motivational quotes, aspirational images and offers I’m promoting.
Since this is a brand new account, I expect the number of followers to start off small but then start to ramp up. It’s less than 24 hours since I created the account and I already have 8 followers, 25 Likes and 5 Comments. I’ll keep this part of this post updated with how the account is performing with Instamate.
My Overall Conclusion on Instamate
Have you noticed just how much social networking eats into your time? You go to Facebook to check what’s happening and an hour passes before you realize it. Now add Pinterest, Instagram and other social networks into the mix and you can lose a lot of hours keeping your social timelines up to date.
Having tools that let you streamline those tasks and make more efficient use of your time are becoming more and more necessary. Instamate is one such tool.
- Being able to effectively use Instagram from a PC or laptop is vital for anyone who wants to use Instagram as a marketing channel, and that’s precisely what Instamate allows you to do. I’m not aware of any other tool out there that can do the same thing.So for that reason alone, I’d recommend getting Instamate.
- Instamate is a web-based app, so you can access it from a web browser on any device or a PC/laptop anywhere
- Manage one or more Instagram accounts from one dashboard making more efficient use of your time
- You are able to download images, repost them, edit them and schedule them to be posted at future dates.
- You can search for trending topics and hashtags and piggyback on those when posting to your own account(s).
- The ability to search Instagram and Twitter (if you bought during launch week) by keyword for images to repost makes finding content so easy. You’ll never be stuck for images to edit and post.
- The upsells aren’t one-time-offers. You can upgrade to any given upsell at a later stage if you need it and not having to upgrade immediately takes the sting out of your initial purchase.
- If you already have an image editor, you don’t need the Instamate Image Editor. It will make the process of editing and posting images a bit faster but won’t have all the options a fully fledged image editor has.
- It’s the same with the Link Cloaker. If you don’t have one, buy it. If you have a WordPress blog, install the Pretty Link Lite plugin on it and use it to create cloaked/masked links.
- I don’t think you need to buy the VIP training immediately. It’s better to get familiar with the basic Instamate first and then decide if you want to scale things up and need more training to do so.
- No product is perfect and Instamate does have one limitation that could prove problematical if you’re not careful. That limitation is that you cannot delete an account you’ve activated in Instamate. The software allows you to connect and active 3 Instagram accounts. If you have an account you want to dump and you want to replace it with another account, you can’t do that. You can buy additional account slots if you need them. So, make sure that you want to use specific Instagram accounts with Instamate before you go connecting up accounts willy-nilly.
- There is a final upsell which allows you to add 30 additional Instagram accounts into Instamate. It’s not something I opted for. I’d have preferred some smaller packages that allow you to add 5 or 10 accounts at a time.
- If you want to add 3 more Instagram accounts into Instamate, the only way to do that is to buy Instamate again. But 6 accounts should be enough for most marketers.
- To get the most out of Instamate, you do have to use the Chrome browser. The extension which allows schedules posts only works in Chrome.
- In order for scheduled posts to work, your PC/laptop needs to be on, connected to the internet and the Scheduled Posts page needs to be open in a tab in your browser. Scheduled posts will not be published if you’re offline and any that are queued for publication will be lost (i.e. you can’t just manually publish them yourself; you’d have to recreate the posts and them publish).
- I’d describe the Instamate user interface as functional rather than slick. It does it’s thing without fanfare or much aesthetics. But it is triumph of substance over style rather than the other way round.
If you plan on using Instagram as a way to drive traffic, build an email list or promote affiliate offers, then Instamate is an essential tool. There is no other tool out there like it today.
I highly recommend buying the Lifetime option – a $37 one-time payment. The $27/year option really makes no sense and the Lite edition only gives you a year’s membership – these are the Early Bird prices. Once the launch phase is done, these prices will go up.
How Does Instamate Stack Up?
While Instagram has been designed to work only on mobile devices, Instamate gives PC and laptop users full control in using Instagram as a marketing channel.
User Review( vote)
My Bonus For Buying Through My Link
I run a membership site called Niche Site Institute where free members get access to three courses – How to Market with Instagram, How To Do Ecommerce with Shopify and How To Use cPanel along with some free ebooks.
The membership site also has a paid level that currently costs $37 per month (that fee will soon rise).
As a bonus for anyone who buys Instamate through any of my links on this page, I will give you a Platinum Membership in Niche Site Profits.
Platinum members get access to an all other courses and additional reports and ebooks. New courses and materials are added every month. And as new material is added, the subscription fee for new members will rise (eventually to $97 per month).
Getting a free pass to Platinum Membership will be worth between $444 and $1164 per year (depending on when you read this review).
Your special access link will appear in your JVZoo download area once your order has been processed.
Filed under: Social Networking